Check out all of today’s new releases in the music world! Continue reading
1968 was a big year for Rock, seeing the release of The Beatles’ White Album, The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Electric Ladyland and The Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet. Not to mention the formation of bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Free and one of America’s premier Rock n’ Roll bands, Creedence Clearwater Revival. To celebrate their 50th anniversary Craft Recordings have compiled The Complete Studio Albums (Half-Speed Masters) 7 LP Deluxe Box Set, containing all seven albums remastered and restored onto 180g vinyl alongside an 80 page book containing archival photos and new liner notes by music journalist Roy Trakin. Continue reading
Check out all of today’s new releases in the music world! Continue reading
World-renowned guitarist and songwriter Neal Schon, the creative force behind Journey for 45 years, has released a holiday-themed EP. Ave Maria features a classic song of the season, a much-loved classic rock cover, and new versions of classic Journey songs. You can stream the EP and download the ‘Ave Maria’ single below: Continue reading
After a gap of six years, legendary shock rocker Alice Cooper is back once again to give today’s youngsters a gentle, but purposeful reminder of how it’s done. At the age of 69, just a few months shy of joining the ranks of the septuagenarians, Alice is clearly in no mood to relax Continue reading
Portland riff rockers Red Fang have been powering through on the road and continuing to push their latest album Whales and Leeches. Their latest venture took them through Knotfest in Devore, CA where they were greeted with a swarm of fans for their early set time.
Being that it is a bit over two years since the release of their current album, they have stretched the lifespan of the release beyond where they had thought it could possible reach.
“It was October of 2013 when it came out so it’s about two years. This is the last tour we’re doing on it. We’re trying to play some smaller cities and cities we haven’t played in a long time. We wanted to get out with some of our favorite bands Whores and Wild Throne and take those guys out. We’ve been writing some new songs and we wanted to try some of those songs out on the tour. We didn’t play them today (Knotfest) because it was a shorter set, but on the rest of the tour we’re doing three to four new songs,” said bassist Aaron Beam, talking about where they stand today.
He talked playing Knotfest and how different it is playing an American festival versus the numbers of European festivals Red Fang had participated on over the years.
“Most of the people at Knotfest speak English! They speak English at most of the festivals in Europe too. I feel more comfortable speaking to the audience here and feeling like they understand me. Besides that, generally festivals are festivals and they’re pretty similar,” he said.
During their 2011 release Murder The Mountains, Red Fang took part on the Rockstar Mayhem Festival tour across North America and played in front of crowds largely geared towards the younger, modern metalcore oriented audiences. Now fast forward to 2015, Beam talked about how playing Knotfest differs from back then.
“I think the lineup today was a bit more varied than Mayhem was the year that we did it. I know Mayhem changes up but the year we did it there was lots and lots of metalcore and more thrash bands. We were the only band that was a rock band. Today was good. It seemed like people were more locked in.”
He also talked about public awareness growing over the years and fans becoming much more saavy with the Fang helped sway them in their favor.
“That’s it too. More people know about us now. Almost any time you go to see a band cold and you’ve never heard of them before, you’re not going to be thrashing around. You’re going to be paying attention and listening, especially when it’s something so different from everything else during the day.”
Recently, Red Fang has released a new seven inch single on Volcom Recordings with two covers – an Elvis Presley and the theme song for the popular 1980s television series Fraggle Rock, reinterpreted by the band.
“There’s two covers on the Volcom seven inch. There’s the Elvis cover which is only the lyrics are the same. The song is an old couple of riffs that we’ve never figured out how to turn it into a song before. Then there’s also a cover of a song from that TV show Fraggle Rock, which is similarly lyrics and an old song that I wrote from before Red Fang even existed that we modified and turned it into a track that worked with that vocal melody,” he explained.
Beam himself took part on the Teenage Time Killers’ record Teenage Time Killers: Greatest Hits Vol. 1 on a song titled “Your Empty Soul,” which he also involved Corrosion of Conformity drummer Reed Mullin. He talked about how he got involved in this project.
“It was actually through this guy Sean Cox, who’s a tech for the Foo Fighters. Several of the Foo Fighters crew live up in Portland. So Sean was helping us out with some guitar problems and we were just hanging out and he asked me if I would mind if he put me in touch with Lou, who engineered the thing. I was like ‘yeah…’ “
“Reed was originally thinking of having Pepper [Keenan] sing on that track but something happened and Pepper couldn’t do it. So it was like ‘you know what would be cool is if we got that guy Aaron from Red Fang.’ I think it was like Reed mentioned it and then Lou talked to Sean, and then Sean talked to me and that’s how it came together.”
While he enjoyed working on the song, he missed his one chance at performing it live at a recent one time show in Los Angeles.
“No I’ve never played it. That was my chance I guess with the concert that they did (Teenage Time Killers at Henry Fonda Theater) in LA but there was no way for me to make it down. Juggling kids and being on tour was real hard. That was a weekend I wasn’t available. Hopefully they’ll do another one and I can do it. I love the idea and I want to actually perform the song once.”
While Beam and the Red Fang guys experienced a lot during this album cycle, he shared some of the highlights he experienced throughout the past few years.
“This last tour with Whores and Wild Throne was big. That was one of the funnest US tours we’ve done. I also loved that tour we’d done with Big Business and American Sharks earlier, and we did a tour right in the beginning with Helms Alee, Wild Throne and a band before them called Gaytheist. Those were all super fun US tours.”
“The highlight of show for me was…and we’ve played a lot of really good shows. But the one that really was the most memorable from this album was Hellfest in France. It was the third time we’ve played it and we’ve got a pretty decent main stage slot. I would say conservatively there were 25,000 people watching us play, and they were not just standing there. It was packed and people were rocking out all the way to the back of the crowd. It was amazing. It was so fun.”
“Lots of times there’s something about the energy of an intimate club you can’t capture on a big huge festival stage like that. But with that many people it was awesome. Maybe we’ll never get to do that again but that’s really memorable.”
They met a lot of high profile names along the way, and many were not necessarily from the heavy music world. One person they met was David Letterman, where they had a rare opportunity to perform on his television show – Late Night With David Letterman – before he retired earlier in the year.
“That was on this album cycle! It seems like so long ago,” said Beam, suddenly remembering this moment. “That was an amazing experience. It was one of those things where I didn’t feel nervous until they started taping the episode. Once they tape it there’s no stopping. It feels like when you’re climbing to the top of a huge waterslide or you’re about to skydive. You know you’re committed. There’s nothing you can do – you have to do it. You’re terrified when you do it and as soon as you do it, you want to do it again. It was exactly like that. It was awesome.”
They also got to work with actor and musician Fred Armisen, who appeared in their music video for ‘Blood Like Cream.’ “He played in a band called Trenchmouth in the 90s that my kids’ mom they used to play shows together, like way back when. She knows him from the music world before he was on TV at all. Pretty interesting.”
Lastly, Beam talked about a new Red Fang also in the work, following the conclusion of their touring cycle.
“Yeah for sure. We’ve already got three songs that are totally done, and we’ve got pieces of…I don’t know…30 more songs worth of material. We’ve got to start as soon as we get back from this tour we’re gonna lock in and start bashing out the songs and turning them into finishing them. We have studio time tentatively booked for end of February or beginning of March.”
“We’re really buckling down now. These tour things come up and A) you’ve got to make money and B) we wanted to try out these songs on the road as well and dial them in a little bit better and see how they’re working. That really helped a lot.”
He gave a preview of the new material that is in the process of becoming the new Red Fang album. “You’ll probably be able to find some YouTube videos of some of the new songs. We’ve played them on this whole tour. One of them is called ‘The Shadows’ and it’s actually on this seven inch we’ve already put out. We’ll do an updated version of it.”
“There’s a new song that I’m super excited about that we’re playing on this last tour that’s kind of a slower, a little dirtier songs but it has this more Russian Circles kind of thing that happens half way through it. It’s got some surprises.”
“We’re still experimenting and branching out and trying new things always. It’s clearly going to be a Red Fang record but with some stuff you haven’t heard before.”
From Black Sabbath’s 1970 début to the present day, cover versions have always been part of the Metal furniture. They can appear as part of the album itself, tacked onto the end as bonus material, or in more recent times, even given a disc of their own to supplement Special Edition packages. In fact for some bands, covers almost come as standard. But to release an entire album of them? Well that could still be seen as a little unconventional.
It’s been done before, of course. Metallica even did it twice (well, once and a half), Slayer took a stab at it, Ozzy had a bash, and more recently Hatebreed threw their hat into the ring with surprisingly effective results. However, whereas those acts chose songs which came as no real shock to anyone, there are a couple of genuine surprises on Skeletons (Evilive/Nuclear Blast). Danzig does ZZ Top and Aerosmith? Really?
Yes, really. And what’s more, he does them well.
Kicking off with a rollicking version of the theme song to obscure 1967 biker flick ‘Devil’s Angels’ it’s pleasing to report that Danzig’s voice is still in fine fettle. The obscure movie theme, er… theme continues with the title song to 1969 movie ‘Satan’s Sadists’. A slow, bluesy number which allows Danzig to croon to his heart’s content, featuring lyrics he could easily have written himself.
Unsurprisingly, the album kicks off properly with the arrival of Elvis. Lifted once again from a movie soundtrack, ‘Let Yourself Go’ comes from the 1968 Presley movie ‘Speedway’, and this new version is an absolute thumper. As soon as it finishes, you want to go back to the start and listen to it all over again. And again. A satisfyingly heavy version of Black Sabbath‘s ‘N.I.B.’ follows. Not a patch on the original of course, and Tommy Victor’s pinch harmonics do start to become a little grating, but it’s a meaty enough version with Danzig’s stamp all over it.
Up until now, covering Black Sabbath, Elvis and low-budget biker movies should come as no real surprise. But Aerosmith? Taken from Get Your Wings (Columbia), ‘Lord of the Thighs’ sounds more like a Danzig original than an Aerosmith song by the time it ends. The Litter are next up for the Fonzig treatment. A psychedelic garage rock band from Minneapolis, their song ‘Action Woman’ from 1967 was their first hit, and once again not the most obvious choice of song to benefit from a Danzig overhaul. But yet again, the big muscular cuddly one comes up trumps.
It’s a case of so near, yet so far with ZZ Top‘s ‘Rough Boy’; an adventurous selection anyway, it so very nearly comes off thanks to Danzig’s voice (probably his best vocal performance on the record), but Tommy Victor’s constant pinch harmonics renders it irritating to the point of distraction. Even Zakk Wylde‘s ear piercing harmonics would have been easier on the ears than this. Also, the addition of a couple of needless “fucks” added to the lyrics distract you even further. Frustrating.
Danzig turns The Troggs classic ‘With A Girl Like You’ into a Misfits number with consummate ease, ‘Find Somebody’ by The Young Rascals gets a lively makeover, and the album closes with a suitably depressing version of The Everly Brothers‘ already melancholic ‘Crying in the Rain’.
Danzig’s voice is as strong (and divisive) as it always has been; a few minor wobbles and cracks here and there but nothing too bothersome. The production is nice and warm, and the album cover features a naked-from-the-chest-up porn star Kayden Kross in skullface make-up. Which is nice.
An interesting collection of songs, Skeletons should sit comfortably on the shelf alongside Danzig’s other releases, and surely without any of the ignominy of being referred to in the future as “oh yeah, that pointless covers album”. If you consider compilation album The Lost Tracks of Danzig (Evilive) to be worthy of inclusion in your record collection, then this should definitely be in there too.
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